Sam Allardyce blamed nerves for Sunderland’s below-par performance at Stoke and was relieved to come away with a draw.
The Black Cats looked set to suffer a hugely costly defeat in their battle against relegation after Marko Arnautovic put the hosts ahead in the 50th minute.
Sunderland offered little but Jermain Defoe won an injury-time penalty when he went down under Geoff Cameron’s challenge and the striker confidently dispatched his 14th Premier League goal of the season.
The 1-1 draw was not enough to keep Sunderland out of the bottom three with Newcastle winning, but it could yet prove crucial.
Allardyce said: “I was happy to accept a point today, that’s a point gained rather than two points lost. Our performance wasn’t the best. We accept that.
“We looked a little bit nervous, more than we’ve ever done before. Maybe the lads were feeling the pressure a little bit today and that caused us to give far too many easy balls away.”